tv To Be Announced CSPAN March 18, 2012 3:56pm-6:00pm EDT
are implementable but yet have the appropriate sense of urgency about moving forward. i think they have done their best. i agree with my colleagues who say as we move forward we need to continue to look at those time frames. if things can be accelerated, we should do that. right now we are moving forward on a solid plan. as commissioner ostendorff mentioned, on a commission that has strong and occasionally divided views there was unanimous support for the actions we have issued. >> commissioner apostolakis. >> i disagree with the statements from u.c.s. i don't what happened in fukushima would happen here. i repeat it was not unthinkable. they made terrible mistakes. >> you did comment actually over the course of a year i think your phrase was my views have evolved. so it is helpful to know that people aren't locked, decided,
this is it. we can study more, learn more, and views can evolve. >> yes. they have evolved, yes. >> commissioner ostendorff. >> thank you, senator. i agree with my colleagues. i also disagree with the u.c.s. report. i'd like to make two comments. i agree with the chairman and commissioner apostolakis' comments on the seismic piece. i think we are concerned with the overall time period to look at seismic hazards. and i think our staff requirement memorandum was issued a few days ago does request that our staff and industry look at ways that might be alternatives to speed up this process. i think we are all -- want to move forward as quickly as we can. that said, i think we are doing it very responsibly. the second piece i could comment very briefly, senator, is the chairman i agree his comments on the station blackout, i agree. one of the things to throw into the mix here is the fact that
many of the nuclear power plants in this country licensees have already ordered additional portable diesel generators, point of order a quorum is not presentable battery charging equipment, and other steps that they are taking to enhance the deal with the loss of power. that's happening now. >> i noted that a member of congress, nita lowery, recently wrote a letter to expand the zone around nuclear power plants to 50 miles. 50 miles is something that the chairman just mentioned in terms of some of the specific plants in california. the n.r.c. has had a report on the n.r.c. clarifies misconceptions about emergency preparedness in states. it's important to note that the exact size and shape of a specific condition at each site is unique and is developed through a detailed planning
that looks at the specific conditions at each site and demographic information. in addition, it says these zones are not limits and are meant to be expanded as necessary. you are shaking your head, mr. magwood. can you comment on that and your specific thoughts? you are shaking your head. can you comment on that in your specific thoughts? >> i think that statement is accurate. emergency planning zones are planning zones. they do not necessarily represent will happen in the case of a national emergency. in that case we would respond with what was going on. i am comfortable with the regime that we have in place, but i should say that as part of our review, staff does anticipate epz and the question of whether it should be expanded. >> a final question to all commissioners.
we talked about the chairman's statements on february 9, the nuclear plants and their life and license been extended, which of course is in my opinion the right path. the other future was for nuclear power -- nuclear plants downward spiral decommissioning. which one is the thrust to be on now? >> i do not think that those paths will be decided by regulators. they will be decided by economic considerations in the scope of our agency. i do not have much more to say. >> one of the nation's top
independent nuclear power experts, i would like to enter his statements into the record. he has been quoted in "washington journal," and all of our major newspapers. he has studied the crisis at the fukushima initiative report. i would match his credentials against anyone. i just want to say that when you-a report, just have them come up here. -- bash a report, just have them come up here. >> earlier you indicated that you travel together to japan to personally visit the area where the incident or disaster occurred. just give us a sense for the
views of the people of japan toward our assistance that we provided for them. i would be interested in hearing that. sometimes we hope -- we help folks in distress. i did not feel a lot of understanding or appreciation for that. what did you feel when you were in japan in terms of the recognition of the work we have done to help them. go ahead, commissioner. >> a great question. all of us have had different interactions. we have heard nothing but gratitude and tremendous banks offered to the united states government, the military, the nrc, the department and cabinet agencies. in the middle of january we received a lot of banks.
a lot of us attended a japanese embassy event last week, where we receive thanks. justhairman's ceremony, three days ago, he passed on his significant thanks and i think it has been very positive. >> commissioner? >> i have had a lot of conversations with people from japan. there is a great deal of appreciation from the contributions. really, to the overall u.s. response, there have been a lot of positive things about our military and the navy, in response to the incident, in helping with logistics'.
i think that we have made a lot of friends in japan over the last year. >> good, good. during the time of your their, can you just show us how many lives were lost because of this disaster? >> because of fukushima? >> yes. >> that we are aware of, none. i will leave that two people were killed at the plant when the tsunami hit and were drowned. other than that, there were no fatalities from the nuclear incident. >> senator, in addition to the two workers, who i also understand were immediately drown on site, i am aware of two workers who have been engaged in a heroic recovery efforts
under extremely uncomfortable and adverse conditions. i understand those individuals have died of heart attacks. i do not know the direct relation. it is very uncomfortable. it may be that they have a stress reaction to the heroic efforts that were required by the workers. i am aware that two additional workers did not have a radiological event but it was a heart attack. >> all right. just before i move on to my other questions, in the united states, how many lives have been lost since they were built? anyone know of the top of their heads? -- off of the top of their heads? >> the answer is none in terms of death because of radiation exposure in this country. >> does anyone have different information?
>> at the risk of being contrary, i think is very important that we not send a signal that fukushima was not an insignificant incident. >> no one is suggesting that. >> i have been in international meetings where people have insinuated that it is an event that we can ignore. >> let me just interrupt you. people that live within 12 miles of fukushima, 50 miles, their lives have been badly disrupted and will be so for many years. no one is attempting to diminish that. and we have had a number of hearings here in recent years where we have talked about the number people not whose lives have been disrupted, but who have been killed because of the dirty air that we believe, put up by utilities, or in many cases blow from the midwest,
where senators sanders and i happen to live. i think we need to put this in a little bit of perspective and i appreciate your helping us to do that. anyone listening to this, and i think that this hearing is televised at least on c-span, anyone listening and wondering what the order or the different letters are, and are trying to make sense of it, can someone in a minute try to explain to a regular american citizen watching this hearing so that they would know we are talking about? please? >> senator, in layperson's terms, it is a set of compulsory actions that the nrc has authority to issue to private entities, such as nuclear power plant operators to regulate nuclear safety. we can issue a directive or
order to compel active -- actions. when we say orders, it is separate from a long process of establishing a new regulation. we can take order very quickly. >> how is that different from a letter, please? >> an order is a requirement that a power plant has to take. the letter is the first step in gathering information. it is something that they have to tell us. information they are required to provide to us. in many cases, it will be the precursor to additional action as we gather information. >> i will stop with this, but in the stand that i and the terms of the agreement for amongst the commissioners, has it been unanimous? a use -- and essentially
unanimous decision over what should be tier one, too, and three? broad agreements on those points? that is encouraging. thank you. >> senator an off -- inhoff? >> i apologize for not being here during the armed services committee. i want to pass for a moment here to reprogram my mind. >> absolutely. senator sanders? >> >> i want to pick up on a statement that commissioner blackwood made a moment ago -- macwood made a moment ago. as i heard, he said that the decisions -- the future of nuclear power in america will not be primarily made by the commission but by "economic considerations." i strongly disagree with that. the future of nuclear power will 100% be determined by
whether or not the taxpayers of this country continue to provide huge, huge financial support to the nuclear power industry for the indefinite future that -- future. that is the issue. i know is find it amusing that at this moment when we have a $15 trillion debt, a metal class -- middle-class shrinking, poverty increasing and people on this committee saying we have to cut social security and medicaid because we cannot afford it, when it comes to nuclear power, there is no end in sight. billion after billion of taxpayer money. my understanding is that the
nuclear power industry is unable to get support insurance from wall street and the private sector because it is too risky and that we have a price anderson piece of federal legislation which guarantees that if, god forbid, there were a major nuclear power disaster in this country, taxpayers would have to pay billions and billions and billions of dollars in liability. in my wrong about that? >> senator, there are really two tears to the price-anderson system. the first tier is private insurance. >> absolutely. and after the first $15 billion, with the taxpayers have to pay? >> they would. >> many of my colleagues would also say get government off the
backs of the business community. why doesn't the nuclear industry go and get private insurance? we believe in the genius of the private sector. why doesn't the nuclear industry get private insurance? >> as far as i am aware, nobody in the power industry has tried to do this. >> of the federal government has stepped in because nobody has thought about going to wall street and said we do not like the federal government. >> the price anderson structure has been in place for a very long time. >> that's right. would you agree with me that
because we are so concerned about our deficit, we may want to end price anderson? are you going to work with me on that? because we do not want the federal government involved, right? i have no comment on that. the new plan has $8 billion of loan guarantees. my question, once again, why are we getting the federal government involved in the genius of the private sector. why do we need loan guarantees? why are they not going to wall street? if we can make nuclear power so safe, why are they not going? last point that i want to make, if we are going to get rid of the waste that exists, nuclear waste in vermont and plants all over the country, it is a very,
very expensive proposition. do you think we think that the private sector to get involved in that rather than tens of billions of dollars of federal money? anyone think that is a good idea? i do not think i hear anything. despite all the talk from my friends about how the government should not be picking winners and losers, our government 60 years ago picked a winner. that winner is the nuclear power industry. tens of billions of direct subsidies are going to that industry. my last question in this regard is when does it end? i am a believer in sustainable energy. i believe it is absolutely appropriate that when you have new technologies it does receive federal support. nuclear power is now 60 years old. it is a mature industry. when do we get it off the government welfare programs? when is it able to stand on its own? >> as i indicated earlier, the economic issues are really beyond our scope? >> do you think the federal government can bear another 60
years supporting these guys? >> i would prefer that to the department of energy. >> how many more years do you think the federal government can support the nuclear industry? >> i would go to the laws executed by the department of energy. >> one of the things we want to make sure is that they have the financial resources to support safe operation. it is very important that these facilities can finance the plans, can insure that they have an appropriate work force. in the end, these finances do have an impact on safety. >> but why can the private sector make them safe? my friends over here tell me about the genius of the private sector. they do not want the government involved. why can the private sector not pay for that? >> we stay out of specific
decisions and try to remain an objective determiner of safety. no more would we want to make safety decisions based on cost in a good way than in a bad way. >> how many years does the federal government have to subsidize -- >> i think these are decisions for the political leadership, not for the industry. >> federal government has picked winners and losers. the big winner is the nuclear power industry. and all of my conservative friends who want the government not to be involved in energy are very silent on the decision to pump tens of billions of dollars into nuclear power. i yield the floor. >> let me start by saying a short response to senator sanders.
i disagree with everything he is saying. [laughter] i made a request back in december. i asked a question for the record that you send me something talking about the allegation of harassment and intimidation that you are being accused of. i asked what actions you plan to take to address the allegations. the one to respond to that briefly? >> i appreciate your question. as we talked about at the last hearing, anything i have done anything unintentionally to feel -- >> know, the accusations are there. how are you going to respond? >> as i said i think at the last hearing, i have never done anything intentionally to intimidate or do things i think were being talked about the last time. in the end, what i think i am interested in is making sure that we continue to do our job,
that the staff is focused on the important safety mission, that the commission makes timely decisions in an effective way. >> ok, that is what you said last time. let me just get to this thing, the first time in 34 years we have issued a license to build 10 new reactors. we want to move forward with this. you said you split with the rest of the commission and said i cannot support issuing this license as if fukushima had never happened. i would like to as the other four commissioners you would like to respond to this, number one, get into the record unless it happened before i came down here, the differences between
the regulatory performance in japan and the united states. i'm talking about the fact that they did not have an nrc, which we put together back in 1974. what would you describe as the differences? and then, what japan is doing now, copying the progress we have made. let's start with you. >> thank you. i will does comment briefly. the commissioner and i were in tokyo in january and met with our counterparts in japan for regulation of their nuclear industry. we had long discussions with leadership about their plans to reform their regulatory structure. i do think they are borrowing heavily from the united states model. i would also say that they're
looking at enhancing independence to try to increase technical competence in their leadership. the japanese, through their own reports, the acknowledged that there are some -- have acknowledged that there are some safety improvements they need to make. their system in some areas came up short. >> any of the rest of you want to comment as to some of the basic differences they are facing over there? not you, mr. chairman, we are a heard from new, but the others in terms of what they might be getting from us. the point i'm trying to make is this. what happened over there and what happened over here, we're talking about different systems, different geology, weather patterns and all of that. maybe you could address some of these differences. because we keep hearing this, and of course the chairman has said we do not want to move forward until we explore fukushima more.
>> there are a couple of things that stand out if you looked at what happened in japan. the first point is what you just discussed. the regulatory authority there was very weak technically. they did not have the amount of independence that we have, for example. the second thing is technical. it has to do with the tsunami calculations. they were very poorly done. let's put it that way. they ignored data from the past. there was a report by a technical society in japan the pointed out that they had to update the tsunami calculations and that was not done. these two things, to me, stand out. there were both organizational issues and technical issues. >> the fact that they had never
put together an independent commission like you guys, any comments on that? >> senator, this is something that the japanese government is wrestling with right now. there is a lot of effort to try to reform their system. they know that there are issues. i have discussed with japanese officials the issues of independence in regulation, for example, the quality of expertise in regulation. i think they're right in the middle of wrestling with this and i do not think they are --
they reached any conclusions. i hesitate to make a statement about the state of things. i think the regulatory agency will be essential to rebuilding the trust they must have with the public. >> i agree with the comments of my colleagues. one item i would add is that i think the japanese acknowledge that their command-and-control structure in this crisis situation was severely challenged, and even in circumstances where decisionmaking is well established and well rehearsed, in times of crisis it becomes very difficult. i think the japanese now understand that the lines of authority were not as clear as the need to be in this situation. >> i just want to continue to get on the record how important it is that we develop our nuclear energy. i sit back and i see that it is accepted now that we in the
united states have the largest recoverable reserves of oil, gas and coal of any place in the world. our problem is a political problem that will not allow us to exploit our own resources. we're the only country in the world that does that. i see a similar thing here too. it was quite a number of years ago that i was chairman of this subcommittee when republicans were a majority. at that time, we had not had an oversight hearing in 12 months. we started moving forward, getting into the safety of all of this, and i regretted when fukushima came along that people were assuming that that threat is here. what we want to keep hammering is that it is not. between the opportunities that we have out there with oil, gas, coal and nuclear, we can solve this problem. nuclear -- numerically, we have
all given speeches about how long it would take and our dependence on the middle east. we do not have to depend on the middle east. we can exploit our own resources. a big part of that is nuclear energy. thank you. >> i was born in west virginia, a big coal state, and i take pride in the fact that the united states is recognized as the saudi arabia of coal. given what we are learning about our natural gas resources, we're the saudi arabia of natural gas and i understand we're in a position to begin
liquefying and exporting natural gas. like my colleagues here i believe, and have for a long time believed that nuclear energy has to be an important component of our portfolio of sources of energy in this country done right. we have worked hard over the years. it has not been perfect, but we know if it is not perfect, we try to make it better. one of the reasons why, and i'm sorry senator sanders had to leave, but one of the reasons why it is important to ensure we have a vibrant nuclear industry going forward is what i alluded to earlier. i'm not aware of anyone who has died in nuclear accidents, radiation accidents in the history of this country. nuclear power does emit sulfur dioxide, mercury, ser two -- does not emit sulfur dioxide, mercury, carbon dioxide. it does not have the waste the comes out of the smokestacks of other utilities around the country. in terms of the money, i do not
know if anyone has ever tried to sit down and figure out how much money we have saved from the 100 or so nuclear power plants that we do not have to pay for medicaid or medicare for folks to go to hospitals for treatment, for funerals, it would be interesting to run the taliban and and see how much we add up to in -- run the time of -- tab on that and see how much we add up to in savings. i just want to get that out there. i will say this to our panel. it is my understanding that the commission has decided to move ahead with rulemaking to address what a facility should do if experience is a loss of all electric power, referred to as a station black out. however, the nrc will have up until 2016 to comply with this new rule once it is final. it is my understanding that
losing electrical power for a long period of time was the underlying issue behind much of the failure of fukushima. my question would be, does the nrc require nuclear power plants in this country to address these issues in any way from now until when the rule would become final? >> as was mentioned, we did issue an order which requires additional impact -- if additional equipment to help mitigate the impact of a loss of power. their portable generators, fuel and these kinds of things, and the ability to connect that power to the vital system. that is the short-term enhancement that would be there to get us through to the time when we have the permanent changes made.
i would also add that plants do have a requirement to deal with a loss of power. right now, we do not think those requirements are sufficient. fukushima showed us that it is likely days, not ours that they will have to cope with this sort of situation. it is not that there is a lack of requirements in this area. we just do not think it is where we will want it to be in a couple of years. >> anything to add to that? all right. my next question is, about three of four months ago, as
the chairman if the day-to-day nrc work was being compromised by staff working on fukushima recommendations. i specifically asked about the licensing of new reactors and the read-licensing of current reactors. the chairman responded that there may be some delays in the real licensing of current reactors due to the constraint in resources. i followed up with a question for the record. i asked how many staff were working for re-licensing for fukushima and how many were working on re--- before
fukushima and how many were working on it today. he replied that 82 were working on it before, 72 now. that did not seem like a large amount of resources. i also asked about delays, and i did not get a clear answer from any view. let me just ask again, is the day today nrc staff work being compromised with the staff working on fukushima recommendations? do you expect delays in licensing and or re-licensing because of that, and if there are any extreme gaps that would reduce performance, what do you need, if anything, to fill those gaps? >> senator, i am not aware of any significant impacts that the fukushima is having on licensing. there are some small impacts. our executive director for operations is doing a very good job of managing priorities for the staff work. i'm not aware of there being any significant impacts.
>> i agree. >> there certainly are impacts. we have put a large number of people working on the fukushima effort so low priority activities will not be done. in the area of licensing, probably the most significant impact will be in the area of extended reviews. those will likely take longer than we had originally anticipated. but again, certainly nothing that would have an impact on safety. our safety efforts and oversights will continue. it is simply staff expertise that we do not have an additional financial resources will not addition -- will not necessarily bring that. >> i have no additional information than the written response i provided on march says. i would just emphasize my
agreement with the chairman. it is resources for critical skills sets, meaning some of these require nation expertise and we have a limited number -- niche expertise and we have a limited number of experts. >> i have asked this question multiple times within the agency to make sure i understand how our fukushima efforts have invented things like license renewal activities. it -- affected things like license renewal activities. it seems that our staff has been able to manage this very effectively and if somebody had to be moved to fukushima, there was another person prepared to take on their work. we have managed without a major interruption to our important work. >> thank you for those responses.
we have been joined by the senator from new mexico. welcome. you are recognized. >> thank you very much. thank you to the commission for being here. i first wanted to ask about several of the priority recommendations from the nrc task force may not be implemented until 2016, four years from now and five years from the fukushima disaster. the average american, it seems to me, expects the government to keep them safe from disasters that nuclear power plants. why does it take five years to implement short-term safety recommendations following the worst nuclear disaster in a generation? >> one area right now where we know there will be some challenges is in analyzing seismic risk, earthquake risk. the simple answer to that is that the industry does not have
the experts to do this. i think that is indicative of the fact that this is not an issue that we probably paid enough attention to in terms of updating our requirements, updating our standards, our skills and our knowledge base. that has clearly, i think, been exposed as a weakness and that is why it is going to take us time because there are limited people who can do these analyses, and they have to be shared among the various licensees that need this work. in an area in particular -- that area in particular that is
part of the reason. >> are there any other reasons? i can understand that. are there other reasons? >> there is a certain point at which is technically complex. it does take time to do the analyses. once, for instance, we understand what the problems are at the plant. proposals need to be made as to how to fix those. those things take time. we cannot do this overnight. i think it is reasonable to shoot for a target to get it all done in five years. that may mean getting all parts of the plan changed as well. i am not confident right now
that we are on target to do that for everything we need to do. >> to any of the other commissioners have comments on that or question on what the chairman said? >> i appreciate the question very much. i would like to comment that a foundational element to the commission's actions here have been the near term task force findings that there is no imminent risk to continued operation of our existing nuclear power plants. if there had been defined -- a finding of imminent risk, we would have shut them down. a more measured approach is appropriate given that the initial finding. >> i would like to add that may be the impression is that we are doing something about seismic now. this is an issue that has been a concern for decades.
the plants have been found safe by our staff. there has been new information by the u.s. geological survey that is now being evaluated. it is not like we're looking at the issue for the first time. they are safe, as far as i'm concerned. >> senator, i appreciate your question on this. i think it is one of the things that is very important to emphasize. as the agency goes through this process, we will be prioritizing based on the hazard risk presented by -- presented at each individual plant. i think you'll find that as we move forward, you will see as having greater activity on sites after we go through the national hazard assessment. we will deal with the plants that need to be dealt with first. >> thank you. i understand there are dozens of
nuclear power plants throughout the country whose operating licenses are about to expire. these plants are seeking to extend their licenses for another 20 years beyond the original projected life span of the plants. to all u.s. nuclear plants have to meet all of the new safety standards, or do older plants get exemptions from new standards? >> in general, as we get new requirements we will in some cases require plants to update to those requirements and in some cases we will not. it depends on the particular issue any particular way the plant was licensed. if you go back to the very first plants in this country, they were not licensed at a time when we had a generic set of basic safety requirements or basic design requirements. some of those plants are licensed to a very different set of standards. there is variety in the way the plants are licensed and the requirements that have been applied to different plants. when it comes to the re- licensing itself, it is like when you get a driver's license every five years or 10 years, you send something in in the mail and you get a new license often. our license renewal is not a brand new licensing action. we do not require that for a license extension. we require that they have programs in place to ensure that the plant will deal with
the aging components that are important to safety. that is the decision we made and the basis for our decision about license extension. >> to any of the other commissioners have thoughts or comments on that question or what has been said? >> i think that the gentleman is right that we look at the subset for the license requirements. once the license is extended, they are subject to requirements like everyone else. >> the point here is that they
have been given exemptions in the past. post-fukushima, are you going to see if those are safe, in light of what has gone on? and what you have learned from the process and the accident? >> i am not aware of any exemptions. >> can i do one more question? >> i do not know, what do you think. >> of senator, i did not see you. >> go-ahead. >> mr. chairman, nuclear power makes up about 80% of the french power supply.
the french nuclear industry is much different from ours, as you know, with a much more involved government role. i learned that officials there are going to require safety requirements -- safety equipment in preparation for disaster is even worse than what it could cause. when will the nrc take similar measures? >> i am reluctant to comment on the french because we are focused on what we are doing in that takes up quite a bit of our time. >> thank you. here we are, sitting down with a birthday cake. whose birthday?
happy birthday. should we sing that? you ♪y birthday to what is your name? it is kathy. ♪ happy birthday dear kathy, happy birthday to you ♪ it will be this young lady's birthday in april. april 16. that is coming up soon. i was smitten by anne -- yes, mitt was smitten. she was a senior -- it was my senior year. she was a sophomore. i have been immediately smitten ever since. >> thank you. what a gorgeous day. i know that this is not a normal day. i know that it should be freezing cold and snowing.
we understand that it might do that again before the summer months passed. great to be here. feel so excited that we have had this opportunity to go across the country. it is a blessing for us to be able to see all the people that we meet wherever we go. we love having the chance to see what america is all about. i wish that everyone could have the opportunity that we have right now to see the goodness of the american people. the heartland and the goodness of america is still strong. and we need to win. [applause] i told mitt four years ago that i would never do this again. and here we are. but we had better get this done this time. he laughs because he says that i say that after every pregnancy and i am the mother of five boys. we have been blessed in life for
our wonderful family and with a wonderful country and wonderful parents. i am so grateful to my mother and father and my grandparents as well. i am so grateful for the opportunities that they gave us. my father is an immigrant who came from whales. his father was a coal miner. he spent all of his childhood, even, working in the coal mines. i am just so close to how so many of you have those stories of success that mean so much to us to be here and have the freedoms that we enjoy in this nation. i am so grateful to the folks that did that and i am so worried, because i have 16 grandchildren of my own and i do not want to leave them a legacy of debt. my grandfather left me a legacy of hope. i want to leave the same legacy
for my grandchildren and i feel that there's only one person who can do that and straighten out this mess and get america growing again and he is standing right here next to me. i will let him tell you how he is going to do that for america. [applause] thank you. thank you, sweetie. thank you. the people back there want to see you in the back room. this way you will love have to listen to me again. i really appreciate your being here in your willingness to vote on tuesday. i need your vote on tuesday. i would like to become the nominee of our party. i will leave that i have the best chance and only chance of replacing a lot -- barack obama as president of the united states. [applause] i say that in part because i do not think we are getting to the place -- it is good to replace
an economic light weight with another economic light weight. i did not learn about the economy by just reading about it in the faculty lounge at harvard or debating about it in congress. instead i learned about the economy by starting a business and helping other businesses get started and working with other businesses that were in trouble and getting them back in -- back on track. to defeat barack obama it will take someone who understands the economy in his will -- in his bones, which i do. i have gone across the country. i have met americans from all different backgrounds and different dreams. i am more optimistic, as i see the innovative spirit of america continuing. it thrives. i know a fellow who was working for the city, the city of st.
louis and he decided to start a landscaping business. he has a thriving landscaping business with over 100 employees. i met another fellow in the advertising business and he and his son decided to make amplifier's four guitars. i met another guy, norman burns, who has patents on his wall at his factory. he has over 100 patents to his name in various electrical design systems. he manufactures these things and put a couple of hundred people to work. i asked him where he got his engineering degree. he said he did not have an engineering degree. i asked him if he went to college and he said he did not go to college either. that he was an entrepreneur. an innovator. it is part of who we are, having this innovative creative spirit. i have seen it make us more optimistic about our future, not
less optimistic. we have 24 million people out of work, who have stopped looking for work. i just met a person this morning who talked about the fact that he has a hard time getting to work and from work, that when you look at his wage and how far he has to drive and how bad the gas mileage is on his vehicle, it does not make a lot of economic sense to drive back and forth to make the kind of money. i spoke with a teacher who had been laid off. she said she could take a part- time job or a replacement job just volunteering and doing other things to get her back into the teaching profession, but when she considers how expensive it is to get to and from these substitute peak -- teacher positions and how much it would be to get paid, it would make more sense to stay on unemployment. americans are having a hard time right now with low wages and hot
-- home values that are down. you guys have lost a lot of jobs here. a lot of manufacturing jobs. so, i understand this is different from what you were promised three years ago, when president obama was then the candidate and he said that if he could not turn the economy around in three years that you would be looking at a one term proposition. well, we're here to collect. he will meet another job. [applause] one of the great over hangs over our future, perhaps our immediate future, is the massive debt that this president is putting in place. he said he would cut the deficit in half and instead he has doubled it. this president has not followed through on his promises. he has no new idea or excuses. in 2012 we will make sure he does not have the least for four
years. [applause] is one promise that the cap was the one related to energy. he said it would cause energy prices to skyrocket. when asked about gasoline going up quickly, he said he would prefer that they would go up gradually. we have seen the results of his policies. this president put together a trio of individuals to implement his view. the secretary of energy said that he would be comfortable with gasoline prices at european levels. secretary salazar said he would not be inclined to give permits for drilling. and then we have the epa
administrator, making it harder to get coal, gas, natural gas out of the ground. as a result, we have an energy outlook is bleak and expensive. the president seems to have undergone an election year conversion. he is looking at his poll numbers and saying he wants to get gasoline prices and energy prices down. if that is the case, it is time for him to fire that trio of gas hike individuals and ask the people that come in there to work hard to open up energy resources and that keystone pipeline from canada. [applause] if i am president, we will use the resources in this country to make sure the we have a secure energy future and keep those hundreds of billions of dollars that we send out of the country to buy energy elsewhere to put
americans back to work. [applause] this is an election about a very distinct choice as to the course of the nation. we have a president who is a fairly comfortable with budgets every year that have $1 trillion deficit. those things are adding up. $15.50 trillion in national debt. we are aiming toward what greece is experiencing. italy, spain, and other nations. we cannot go down the road, in my view. we must cut and cap federal spending and we will finally get america on track to have a balanced budget. that is what i will do if i am president. [applause] we have a president whose view of the economy is interesting. sometimes he believes that the government can do a better job picking winners and losers, or
in his case, losers, that the free-market. he invests in places like some indra and tesla -- they happen to have been campaign contributors. what this does is the opposite of what he thinks it does. he does not understand that when government picks winners, they fail. that the rest of the free economy shutters and goes into retreat. my guess is that when he put $500 million or so in some indra, there were 100 other solar ventures out there that had ideas. guess what happened to their financing? when they heard that the government put $500 million in one, instead of encouraging solar energy, he made it more
difficult for solar energy and technology to be developed. i will not have the government pick winners and losers. i will return to the principles of a free-market. [applause] you know his views on health care? his view is that the heavy hand of the government can do better than you can in taking your type of insurance and the kind of coverage that you have and, ultimately, the kinds of procedures that you will be entitled to. if i am the next president of the united states, on the first day i will stop obama-care in its tracks. [applause] his jobs plan is associated with a decision to raise the marginal tax rate from 35% to 40%. i know that he thinks that that is a good thing and will take money from high income people,
he thinks, but what he does not stop and recognize is how many people in america work for enterprises tax that the individual level and not the corporate tax level. do you realize a 54% of the people in america work for businesses taxed as individuals. and when you raise that from 35% to afford -- to 40%, they will have less money to hire people back into good jobs. the right course is not to raise those taxes, as he is doing, but to cut the marginal tax rate, which i will do across the board, so that this becomes revenue neutral. i will put that marginal tax rates down so that small businesses can afford to hire again. this is about creating more jobs, not punishing americans. let me just mention one more
thing, with regards to the military, the president has one place where he is willing to make a dramatic cut, which is the military. $1 trillion over a decade is where he is named. our navy is older and smaller than any time since 1917. our air force is older and smaller than any time since its founding. our troops have been stretched to their limits in the conflicts we have been in, but he wants to cut the number of troops in this country. i would increase ship building each year. i would increase the purchases of aircraft. i would make sure that our veterans get the care they deserve. [applause] my view is not just that we want to have a military that can win
wars, which is why we want to build a larger and stronger than any other, it is primarily to prevent wars. ronald reagan said that he saw four wars began in his lifetime. and i want to make it so that no one would think of our testing america's military might. we will have a president if we keep barack obama, who will put in place more $1 trillion debts and raise taxes on small businesses, shrink the military and impose obama-care on the nation. this will be a president who without question will continue to encourage shutting off fossil fuel sources for the majority of the economy. that leads to a continuing
american decline and difficulty at the pump and workplace. my policy is different. i will get rid of obama care. i will take the energy resources and keep the american military second to none in the world. that is the choice that we have. the election of a critical choice. i believe that to win it, we need to have someone who understands how this economy works. there are some other good folks who are running. they spend washington is a great place. it's just got too many politicians. the problem as they go there and stay there. even if they don't get reelected, they stay there. they ought to go, sir, and go home and understand how the economy works.
[applause] i spent my life in the real world and i want to go to washington to bring that real- world experience. i don't think they washington politician, someone who spent their life there and not having lived the economy as i have will not be able to stand up to barack obama and present the kind of contrast you have to have to replace him. i don't think we're going to replace another economic lightweight with another economic lightweight. i am not an economic light weight. i'm going to use the skills learned in 25 years in business and by the way, took those skills and help turnaround at the olympics and by the way a conservative governor of a state and i worked together with democrats and we were able to get the jobs done by doing things i think you'd find impressive. we balance the budget without
raising taxes even though there was a $3 billion budget gap and we had to cut back on spending. i came into office and did not just look down the rate of growth in spending, cut spending and work hard to cut taxes. 19 times we cut taxes and we fought to have english immersion and our schools and got it. we drove our schools to be ranked no. 1 in the nation of all 50 states. i hear those cheers -- i would be proud of the fact we were able to get highways and bottlenecks to rebuild our infrastructure. i was a pro-life governor. i came down on air -- i came down on the side of traditional marriage. those credentials are desperately needed in washington. i intend with your helped to do
something very different than this president. he wants to fundamentally transform america. i don't want to transform america into something we would not recognize. i want to restore to america the principles that made it the hope of the earth. [applause] those principles spoken of so clearly in the declaration of independence. the declaration of independence said we were in doubt by our creator with our rights. among those rates were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. we are free in this nation to pursue happiness as we choose, not limited by the circumstances of barber for where we live. not limited by government. we are a nation that seeks
freedom and opportunity. people came here for hundreds of years seeking those opportunities. as i watch this president, he is chipping away at our economic freedoms and putting in peril the economic foundations. i will restore not just our liberties but our economic freedoms. by doing so, i will help restore the greatest economy of america. i love america. if we come together and let someone who understands how this country works, we will keep america as it has always been, the hope of the earth. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
>> it mitt romney just left the room, reading the crowd here in rockford, ill., close to the wisconsin border. he is scheduled to go to the town hall meeting in vernon hill illinois. we're going to take your calls to find out whether you think the primary process is helping or hurting the gop. the numbers to call are on your screen. we are going to get right to it. steven is out on the coast, in cape cod, mass. on the democrats' line. >> [unintelligible] if they are here illegally, they
should not be citizens. >> we're trying to find out if you think the primary process is helping or hurting the gop. >> what was the question? >> with the primary process is hoping that gop? >> i don't think so since they have so many running. >> and you think that is hurting them? >> i think so. >> we have roy in richmond and virginia on the republicans lined. >> i think it is helping the republican party because it's getting the message out there and getting people an alternative, pro capitalist, pro american perspective. obama is going to lose anyway because all he's done is make things worse and people are tired of the finger-pointing and class warfare and we are ready for a change that we can really
have hope in. god bless you. >> what do you think about the spending of the money in the fighting between republican candidates? >> people fight and we don't do it in a disrespectful way. we disagree and we have first amendment rights in this country. i assure you there will be plenty of money when it comes time for the election and limits it government will win in a landslide over this marxism we are being served up right now. >> walter is in baltimore maryland on the independence line. >> i think the impact is helping to expose them for the frogs they are. the idea they can spend hundreds of millions of dollars tearing each other down exposes them and let america see where their priorities are. mitt romney -- the only person
of color i saw today was in the secret service. but that is okay. as your last caller demonstrates, there is no decency among them. i would say to you the money is helping to expose them and whether or not they consider it helpful, i consider it exposing them. i appreciate c-span and if we don't need affordable health care, why are they trying to get into women's bodies? >> normally days like super tuesday's with lots of contests have been defining for these candidates, but rule changes have stretched out the 2012 nomination process and that means it could continue into april and possibly into june. we're going to go now to connecticut on the democrats' line. can you mean you to your television? it sounds like you are --
>> i think the gop has stepped into the wrong thing now to try to control women's bodies. it is a total effort that should not even be put forth because the females have the right to control their own bodies and the only thing the gop is doing is lying about what they can do and will do. >> we are trying to find out what our viewers think of the primary process. is it helping or hurting the gop? next up is valerie in jacksonville florida. >> i think we need to know more about them. they did not that obama and looked at what we stepped in with him. something has to be done. he's a racist and he has gone against the christians and he is spending all of this money and we keep going into debt more and more.
people don't want to work. he is trying to tax the seniors to death. this first year we got a little bit of an increase but two years before we got nothing. for him to say one of our representatives is pushing seniors over the cliff -- he is pushing us over the cliff. >> we may have lost her. let's see -- go ahead, you are on the line. we're going to try one more time here. >> are you there? >> yes. >> the primary process is definitely hurting the gop. they have a lot of ground to make up with hispanics, women,
and set of focusing on jobs, they pivoted and have started to focus on women's health. that is not going to help them. they have a lot of ground to make up with independence, hispanic voters and women. the last caller calling the president their racist is despicable. >> how has it been to watch this drawn-out primary process? >> it is good to have this process like they did with the democrats last year, every state had a chance to vote and make their voices heard. >> you are watching and romney on the screen right now. moscow to new jersey and the democrats' line. what do you think? >> i think it's wonderful for us democrats. we could not have hoped for anything more. they are putting all their dirty
linen out for the public and i think every democrat should bless their process. they are screwing themselves up. >> reuters reports that rule changes by the republican party has stretched things out. one of the ideas was to energize volunteers, attract more voters and capture the excitement of the 2008 elections. we're going on now to long island and new york on the independence line. >> i think it is a good idea for this campaign to keep going. this way we are sure of some we are voting for and mitt romney in my opinion will be my man that i vote for because he is marvelous. he is what we need to get jobs done, to straighten out this country and make obama go back home to chicago because he's not doing right. he's not a leader.
he's forcing everything down our throats. mitt romney is more like reagan. he's the best. this campaign should keep running because i know this man is going to get in with this quality behind him, his job performance, he is a man who has been in the business world and he knows what to do. he has so many good things about him and his family and has a wonderful background. >> closer to washington d.c., we're going to west virginia on the democrats' line. >> hello. is the primary process helping or hurting said gop? i think it is helping all of us. this is the way it should be all the time. it's the only way for the american people to know exactly what's out there.
if people play -- people pay close attention to what they're hearing and seeing, they will be able to make a well informed decision. i'm a democrat but i have always been open minded toward anybody who is running as long as the issues they are talking about are the issues we need to be focusing on. unfortunately, we get into these primary debates, people start attacking one another and forget we have issues we need to be talking about and that's what i have not clearly been able to find out from the candidates so far, exactly what they intend to do. i hear them complaining about what they see not being done and i hear them complaining about obama, but i'm not hearing them tell us specifically how they intend to do it differently. just say when i get to be president, i am going to change it but i want to hear how
they're going to change it. how they are going to get cooperation in congress and get anything better than what is being done now. >> that is a good point, trying to compare the issues of the candidates. we have a special campaign 2012 website where you can line up the candidates and to compare them on the issues. across the country now to san diego on the republican line. >> thank you for taking my call. i wanted to let everybody know that i think they should reevaluate ron paul again. he has been ignored in the media at all lot. he has been calling of voter fraud and lately and is trying and a lot more people to the rallies than a majority of these other candidates. >> is this primary process good for ron paul? >> it could be if the media
would pay more attention. that is the main fault. in illinois, he drew 5000 people whereat santorum troops 120 people and gingrich have 70 people at his rally. if the media pays attention, people will realize where ron paul stands and he definitely could be president. >> another caller on the independence line. >> the primary process is pretty good. mitt romney seems he is going to be up barack obama. if you elect ron paul, i don't think he's going to make it. >> people don't understand the economy i'm going to explain it
like this. [unintelligible] we are going to multiplying every 53 years and we are going to double every 53 years. >> we're talking about the primary process. is it helping or hurting that gop? >> our you doing? i think this process has been hard on the gop. i made democrat, but mitt romney tells me he is in favor -- he said he was in favor of planned
parenthood and then he is in favor. ist romney's main problem mitt romney. he does not know what he is talking about newt gingrich, we are not prepared to go to the moon. they keep on blaming president obama. but most of the time, they say a bomb but made the recession worse. before we blame obama, we ought to understand -- it was not a democrat ruling the country. when we send our money to war, china was voted infrastructure. >> we're trying to find out about the primary process, whether you think it is helping or hurting that gop.
>> you might want to new york television. it sounds like he is having a hard time hearing as. we're moving on to larry in macon georgia on the independence line. >> i think it is helping them because you find out about these gentleman. they would not harm american citizen like the hit on the black guy at the town hall meeting. so you think the primary process is helping? >> they would not sanction a hit on a black man. they need to find out why he was not jumping up and down about it. >> we're looking at pictures
here of mitt romney. he held a fairly short rally with supporters in illinois. >> hello. to answer your question, they gop primary is not helping all. i have to be honest and say what i have seen as a democrat is very disheartening, very destructive, i'd do not believe any of the candidates. if i was a republican, i would be fighting for ron paul. but from what i have watched with the talking at each other and the mudslinging, a lot of heat talk against women, against
things that have made america strong four decades, the attack on km, the attack on women, i don't know how in the world dividing america that does the gop field is going to help them when people like me who might be willing to vote for them because of an open mind, because of wanting to see who can lead. >> -- wisconsin, on the republicans line. >> i which is like to say i think the longer primary process is good, the more we know about the candidates, the better. we did not know enough about barack obama and that's why we're having the problems we have today. everyone always says they want a
candidate who says what they mean and mean what they says. we have one in rick santorum. he was in pr where he knew it would not be popular to take the stance that he took but he said it anyway and this is the kind of courage he has been exhibiting all over the country. if you want the eight candidates who says what he means, of failures of to vote for rick santorum. >> rick santorum is spending time in louisiana today which holds its primary on saturday. he was visiting churches in louisiana today and was going to attend the state baseball game as well. he is scheduled to be on a regular program in chicago and the illinois primary is coming up on tuesday. next, to louisiana on the independence line.
>> i think it is hurting that gop. the world gets to see how they are. they have taken away women's rights and people's rights. they deregulate everything. i've watched half the freshwater in the united states poisoned. if you vote gop, you are voting to kill your social security. they claim they are christians. you cannot be a christian when you hurt the poor and help the rich. >> the room here is clearing out and mitt romney has apparently left. he will be going on two more events here in illinois. we're going to show it again tonight on c-span and the road to the white house coverage continues tomorrow with mitt romney at the university of chicago. he will deliver a speech expected to be focused on the economy.
thank you for your calls, and for those of you did not get through, next a discussion on relations between the u.s. and afghanistan from today's "washington journal." host: let me get to the possibility of civil war breaking out in afghanistan and what would the impact be on troops in afghanistan and our long-term objectives there? >> i think it is a serious possibility. what we call the northern alliance, meaning those ethnic groups from the north have been thinking about and planning for and afraid of since we invaded
in 2001. when we went into kabul, , the largest group is from the south. when we moved in in october, the no. alliance people were starting to hold their fire and move their armored personnel carriers to prepare for what they felt might inevitably happen. this is what we are starting to see now as they are afraid the united states will pull out. interesting to note was at the koran burning demonstrations. i noticed the northern alliance
people were demonstrating against us. they were upset but i feel they were upset and voicing their anger that we, the united states, had begun negotiating with their archenemies, the taliban, a in the south. these demonstrations were in a northern alliance city. the prospect is very serious for a civil war and the north knows it very well. host: the president has had to go between his own standing in afghanistan and to the united states. does he have credibility among the afghan people? >> i think he has credibility in the south, primarily because of the tribal structure of afghanistan.
afghanistan is the largest tribal society on earth. the afghan president is denigrated in the west, that his government is extremely corrupt and to a degree that is true. he also comes from a clan of the postions. most of the kings of afghanistan have been from this particular branch of the principal ethnic group in afghanistan. he has a certain standing simply by virtue of being king of afghanistan. i recall very vividly when i went to interview him in 2008 and we went into the main room where you see most of the photographs taken when the heads of state meet with him.
we went in with just a few aides and he had one photograph on his desk and that was of the previous king of afghanistan. i think he has a certain allegiance throughout the country. one reason he is acting the way he is today, particularly since the massacre allegedly by this particular soldier is that he was trying to stay alive. most of the leaders of afghanistan since 1978 have been killed. second, he is trying to stay ahead of the taliban.
they're trying to win over the hearts and minds of the afghan people just as we are. he has to walk a fine line between the united states and the afghan people and take in account at taliban. >> onto come in to that point and your own experience with the taliban. i assure one moment as leon panetta in what was an unannounced visit -- one of the soldiers returning stateside after spending a tour of duty asked the question what he should tell his a-year-old daughter about what his mission was all about perry here is what's he said. >> you did it because of the dream i talked about. the dream of giving those children, your children a better life for the future. the reality was the united states of america was brutally attacked on 9/11.
attacked by al qaeda terrorists whose goal continues to be to try to attack the united states of america. the reason you are here is to make damn sure that never happens again. we have day in and day out because of sacrifices by you and everyone else, we have made significant progress in that area. you have seen it here in afghanistan. violence levels are down. we have transitioned key areas to afghan control and security. that is going to be the key to making sure the taliban never again find a safe haven, to have an afghanistan is secure and can govern itself, that is a
sovereign and independent country that will make sure the taliban never returns. host: that was last thursday in afghanistan. your reaction? guest: what caught my attention is that until the very end he never mentioned the word taliban. under president bush, we went into the destroy and dismantle as much as we could the taliban government and particularly to destroy an iraqi as much as possible al qaeda. this is what consistently president bush said and what president obama has said. toward the end, but general stint in afghanistan -- we heard constantly there were no more than 50 al qaeda people in afghanistan. most of them were across the
border in pakistan. the war was never a war against the taliban. the war was against al qaeda. even under president bush, he has said al qaeda. what has happened is -- and i have been in a situation where i have seen people from al qaeda -- i don't know how many there are in afghanistan. there are tremendous number of taliban in pakistan, but this board has morphed into a war against the taliban and increasingly, because of missteps, tragedies and mistakes, it has morphed into a war in too deeply religious role afghans, 33,000 villages in afghanistan. 80 percent of afghanistan is comprised of villages. the united states has to be extremely careful here how it is going to leave a country that is dependent on the united states on one hand and is threatened on
one hand and yet for deep psychological and traditional and long time reasons, close to the taliban. the taliban have been a traditional part of afghan villages. they are the ones who provided care when a child is born and to conduct services when someone is married and at a funeral. in exchange for which, they would receive rice or chicken. the trouble is they have achieved power or become belize and they are frightening element to a great many people. however, when leon panetta was saying yes, i agree with that completely. the united states is there so that afghanistan does not become a place where al qaeda can wreak havoc on the united states. the taliban have never attacked the united states outside of afghanistan.
they have never launched attacks against us. one could say they don't have the capability. their goal has always been to create a pure islamic government in afghanistan and increasingly in pakistan. ultimately, the united states has to find a way to withdraw itself so that al qaeda does not come back to afghanistan and afghanistan can stand on its own 2 feet, not just to keep al qaeda out but to keep its neighbors out. >> our guest began his career here in washington working for senator henry jackson. as written for "the washington times" and was a consultant for the movie "charlie wilson's war." he is the author of the book " captive -- my time as a prisoner
of the taliban." caller: good morning, gentlemen. i'm really confused. been grand ifve the german and french diplomats drew the lines in the middle east with tribes in mind into a nice symmetrical lines? but that's another story. the question i was curious about -- do you ever see the day were if it turns to a civil war and you have the no. alliance and the taliban, what are the odds of the northern alliance to defeat the taliban and what kind it pro-government with the no. -- what kind of government with
the no. alliance put together. the leader of the northern alliance was assassinated 10 years ago just as the war was picking up. host: could you take a step back and explain what is the taliban? guest: the taliban -- talib means a student or seeker. taliban is the plural. they are anyone who attends a across the college is arabic for school. many religious school in our case. that is in many cases. they became in 1994 when afghanistan, as a result of the 1980's wore between the mujahedin and the soviet union, after the united states and soviet union pulled back its support, chaos ruled in
afghanistan. out of which, former members of the mujahedin in the southern part of the country, trying to eradicate the violence, chaos and anarchy began to try to clear the roads and formed a group to bring peace and at some point, this is disputed by great many people, but it is clear that pakistan came in and began to back the taliban and it became a very strong military force and moved north and defeated what we doubt call the northern alliance, which is this grouping of ethnic groups from the north and pushed them back to the northeast corner of afghanistan. the military leader of that alliance to which the caller just alluded to was assassinated
by al qaeda two days before 9/11. you made a very interesting point but you're talking about the middle east. the malaise is completely different from afghanistan -- the middle east is completely different from afghanistan. but what we do have here is what is called the durand line. when the british ruled india, he and the emir at that time in 1893, drew what we have now as the border between afghanistan and pakistan. not one single afghan legislature has ever approved that border it. president karzai does not accept the border and the taliban does not accept the border. that border goes right through the posh two nation -- p the
oshtoon nation. the border in afghanistan but does not and that the line. it and that the indus river. that's one reason we have a war going on. your final question was what would happen in a civil war? i think what you would see is as happens in the past, and mid- 1980s, and as made clear and a possible sense, the united states and its allies would be saudi arabia and egypt, nato nations that were involved were backing the mujahedin. a great many people throughout the country were against the
communists. the communists have largely been defeated but are still a part of afghanistan. there is still an underground war going on, that is to say religious and secular elements in afghanistan. what you would see is the no. allied with india probably with russia would fight against pash toons in the south and it would be terrible. the afghans have been at war for 33 years. over a million were killed during the soviet-afghan war. how many more will be killed? they will do everything possible to stop a civil war, but it's a distinct possibility. host: over the last decade, 1800 soldiers have died in afghanistan. 15,000 wounded and an estimated price tag of $400 billion.
a breakdown of troops in afghanistan led by the u.s. with 90,000 troops there followed by 9500 from the united kingdom, 4700 from germany, just under 4000 from italy and 3000 french troops. what would a saigon-type pullout before afghanistan? would it be like vietnam, 30 years later we are trading with vietnam? guest: very interesting. i'd do not think the united states military once in any way a repetition of the saigon pullout. america does not want to see a photograph on the front pages of newspapers of a helicopter on top of an embassy with people clamoring to get on and ride out with what we call today, even though we don't like to admit
it, none of us in this country, defeat, even though we did not lose battles military, we lost these battles politically in vietnam. you have a serious problem here and i think the crucial thing to prevent a saigon-like exodus is to go to the heart of the taliban itself. it's not just negotiating with taliban leaders. this takes place in pakistan. why don't we go to pakistan and level with them about this? $400 billion is a tremendously large sum. i've been in the army. my sympathies are 100% with the gis on the ground. we're talking about all those troops to have been killed and how many have been maimed, as steve just brought out. how do we justify this long 10
years plus -- i think we're going to be a lot longer than 10 years -- and not leave with our tail between our legs? you have to negotiate with the taliban on the ground and work something out with pakistan and people don't like to hear this but iran has a tremendous influence. 20% of afghans are shia. 80% are sunni. i ran will play a role, so russia and china. this will be very complicated but i do not believe as mitt romney has said, that we best kill our way to victory and kill all the taliban. the difference between the ash can -- the afghan national army is the same difference i noticed as a newspaper reporter
living in afghanistan between the army and the than mujahedin. the mujahedin had a motivation. the glue that held all due to have been together was islam. they were willing to die for what they believed in. the afghan national army does not have that motivation. we have too many people going at some without leave, too many people not committed to that army. a great many are but far too many are not. the taliban using the same weapons and living in the mountains. they are willing to die for what they believe in and willing to live on very little and that is a very difficult type of army to defeat. therefore it going to be an extremely complicated thing and the only way we can do this is bringing people together at a conference table and hashing this out, otherwise the united states will be in a vietnam-type quagmire and more american soldiers are going to be harmed. >> a couple of comments from our
viewers -- not that we left with our tails between our legs, our politicians did that. does anyone else support this supposition that the u.s.'s in afghanistan because they are in either side of iran? evelyn joins us on the phone from pennsylvania. you are on the air. caller: why do we have to have these men to 3 and 4 tors in afghanistan? guest: on all of those points, having been in the army during vietnam, i do not side with those who feels america left with its tail between its legs. i don't mean to imply that. the perception was the united
states left as the loser in vietnam and i don't think anyone would disagree with that because, guess not just politicians, a great many people in the country were opposed to the war and was a volatile and tragic time for all of us. the second point was -- iran, excellent point. the main soviet base in afghanistan is the headquarters for the u.s. military in afghanistan. it is toward the border of pakistan somewhat, the second- largest base in afghanistan, built by the soviet union. it's in the west, near the iranian border. the united states, we are building at that base and we're still very much there.
i think one excellent point that reason the united states has been in afghanistan is to surround iran and keep pressure on iran. by filling up our base in the north, to watch this whole region there, i don't think the united states wants to leave afghanistan. plans are to stay there and keep special forces there so that we do not find afghanistan is a place from which al qaeda can attack us in the west, but i also think we want to maintain a presence there to keep other elements down and i think iran is one very strong reason why we're there and we are in iraq and in the south in saudi arabia and we are very much on the western border of afghanistan, right next to iran. thirdly, and so far as three or four deployments to
afghanistan, that is something that military, the pentagon decides. i come from a different generation, one tour, one year, sometimes two years abroad and then you were in or out for three years. it is a tragic. where's soldiers down. unfortunately, one reason we have such difficulty in places like afghanistan is that it is such a complex and alien culture to us. soldiers and marines go in for six months or eight months and it's not a very long time in which to get to understand this culture. until such time as we learn to truly understand it, we're always going to have this great divide. we read the newspaper articles and it's becoming increasingly worse as afghan soldiers have fired and killed american soldiers.
our allies, a very sad thing. that's something the pentagon is working out -- deployments is a tough one. host: from our twitter page -- host: john is on the phone from massachusetts. caller: good morning. thank you very much. the information you are giving this morning is probably the truth coming. but let me get to my question. what to focus on a particular point in time when stinger missiles, the charlie wilson's war era. at that point, did they make it a religious taliban? my feeling is this is blow back
policy and afghanistan -- i can't comment on it. out -- alexander the great had his problems getting that far in the world. that part of the world is extremely thin -- extremely complicated. guest: regarding the stinger missile -- when i first went to afghanistan in 1981 as a free- lance reporter for the "new york times" i lived in the mountains with a man who was our close allies at the time. today, headquartered in pakistan, he is the leader, the patriarch of the network which is one of the most dreaded, lethal, anti-american forces in the entire region.
i recall so strikingly -- it became fascinating to me years later when i was there, an egyptian army major disguised as a journalist came to was one day on a donkey. he had me stay with him and he hated me because i was american. we had a stinger missile there. i had never seen one before. he wanted to fire this missile. thaw he did that and the mujahedin said he killed a lot of rocks. they were upset he was allowed to fire a missile and second, they did not like him. it i realized years later he was the very beginning of what became al qaeda. someone from west point, from the counter-terrorism center came to me to a half years ago and said we're still trying to find this man that you wrote about who is still a member of
al qaeda. what i'm trying to say is this war initially was a war against communism, a war against the -- a war that the united states back fully. afghanistan was a battleground between the soviet union and united states. our proxy armies were the new -- or the mujahedin in the south and gave billions of dollars to. the soviet union, which disbanded in 1990, backed the communist government out of kabul. there was a secular verses religious element and yes, you are correct. it became increasingly fundamentalist threat the country. the religious groups became
increasingly powerful, that taliban, disgusted at what became as they saw the corruption and anarchy as a result of the infighting among the mujahedin after we left wanted to cleanse the country and to create a pure islamic government. they became ever more lethal and ever more fundamentalist. i do think it is far, far worse today than it was of the very beginning when it was not just a religious war and yes, and has become fundamentalist in the eyes of the taliban state and day want to make it ever more so. .